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Saturday, Dec 20, 2014

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First-Year Convocation-1

The Marching 110 leads the Class of 2018 up Richland Avenue following the President’s Convocation for First-Year Students.

Photographer: Lauren Pond

First-Year Convocation-2

President Roderick J. McDavis addresses incoming Bobcats during the President’s Convocation for First-Year Students, held Sunday at the Convocation Center.

Photographer: Lauren Pond

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President Roderick J. McDavis greets first-year students as they enter the Campus Involvement Fair on the College Green.

Photographer: Lauren Pond

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Class of 2018 welcomed at President’s Convocation for First-Year Students


Ohio University capped off Go Green Week with the President’s Convocation for First-Year Students, welcoming the largest, brightest, most diverse, and, judging from the enthusiasm displayed at the event, one of the most spirited classes in the University’s 210-year history.

Held Sunday afternoon at the Convocation Center, the event featured the induction of more than 4,300 first-year students. It also marked the first gathering of the Class of 2018, who demonstrated their Bobcat Pride with chants of “OU, Oh yeah!”

The ceremony featured introductions and welcoming remarks from student, faculty and staff representatives, all of whom issued their own words of wisdom to the Class of 2018, challenging these young scholars to make the most of their time at OHIO both within and outside the classroom.

Delivering the official student welcome was Meg Omecene, a junior studying strategic communication in the Scripps College of Communication, who earned the honor of speaking at the event by winning a video contest hosted over the summer by the Division of Student Affairs.

Omecene’s speech addressed the apprehension and feeling of loneliness that come with leaving home for the first time. She reassured incoming students by telling them: “From the moment you decided to commit to the best college in the world, you are not alone. Being a Bobcat – a member of the Ohio University family – means you are never alone.”

She backed that message up by conveying the support provided by fellow Bobcats after she broke her ankle last year.

“Every day, when I walked…to my class at the top of Morton, no fewer than 15 students would ask me if they could carry my backpack or help me get up the hill. Every day. For weeks,” she told the students, many of whom were donning OHIO T-shirts provided as gifts from the University. “Students whom I had never seen before genuinely cared and were concerned about me, a fellow student who they could see was struggling – just because I also wore the green and white. That’s what the Bobcat Family is: Everyone on the campus constantly looking out for one another, caring about each other and wanting the best for everyone.”

Omecene noted, however, that the relationships Bobcats share is a two-way street.

“OU, the community, the Bobcat Family – whatever you want to call it – will love you if you love it, but you have to put yourself out there to be loved,” she said, urging the students to get involved on campus and step outside of their comfort zones.

While Omecene’s remarks focused on relationships formed outside of the classroom, Beth Quitslund, who spoke on behalf of the University’s faculty, turned her attention to the relationships formed inside the classroom. Chair of Faculty Senate and an associate professor of English, Quitslund challenged the students to embrace their mission as thinkers and learners.

“I hope you will come to see that we are all defined as much by what we don’t know and what we want to know as much as by what we do know,” Quitslund said. “I hope you will learn that knowing how to ask good questions, original questions and hard questions is more important than simply knowing stuff, that curiosity has greater value than mere competence.”

Quitslund encouraged students to take at least one class only because they want to, to find satisfaction of play in their academic work, and to make it a priority to get to know at least one faculty member.

“Your OHIO education doesn’t just end after graduation,” she said. “It continues for the rest of your life – through the interests you’ve cultivated here, through the expanding network of friends and future professional contacts that you’re already starting to establish with your classmates, and through relationships you form with faculty – as mentors, colleagues and friends.”

A communication scholar, Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit talked about the students’ relationship with social media and information technology.

“Experience will help you learn what is quality and what is fluff,” she said. “What is substantial and what is unreliable. Explore. Try new categories, new genres. Seek advice from the critics as well as the fans.”

Benoit challenged the Class of 2018 to rethink their preferences and to find time to step away from the screens to engage with the campus community.

“You are not limited by your playlist,” Benoit said. “You are not limited by where you come from. You are not limited by the skills and talents you brought with you. You get to start again.”

In taking the stage, Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis shared with the students the opportunity OHIO afforded him to start again nearly 50 years ago when, as a first-year student at the University, he failed the first test he took.

“I thought about leaving the University,” he admitted, “but in that moment, I sat down with me and I said, ‘You can do this.’

“The moral of the story is this: You may fall down this year … but you will make it if you try… but you’ve got to be committed with all your heart and soul.”

President McDavis shared with the students the promise of Ohio University – both the promise OHIO makes to its students and the promise Bobcats make to the University to live by OHIO’s five core values: community, citizenship, civility, character and commitment.

“Do the right thing,” he told the students. “You are a representative of your family. You are a representative of yourself. We want you to have a good time, but we want you most importantly to never forget why you came to this university.”

After President McDavis formally inducted the Class of 2018 into the OHIO community, he and members of the University’s student leadership, faculty leadership and executive staff joined the University’s Marching 110 in capping off a first-year tradition – the procession up Richland Avenue and through the College Gate, symbolizing the class’ entry into the Bobcat Family. From there, students were encouraged to explore 350 of the more than 500 student organizations offered on the Athens Campus at the Campus Involvement Fair.

First-year students and friends Carly Fuerst and Bri Giordano, both of Cleveland, agreed that President McDavis’ speech had an impact on them.

“He was so inspirational,” said Giordano, who is majoring in business marketing. “He made me feel really motivated.”

“I thought his speech was so inspirational and uplifting,” said Fuerst, who is majoring in biological sciences.

“I really liked how the speakers related to the students and shared stories from when they were younger,” said Bruce Pierce, a first-year student from Los Angeles who is majoring in finance.

“There are so many things to do on this campus,” said Kadijah Wingo, a first-year theater major from Cleveland who said she really enjoyed the carnival Residential Housing hosted for students Friday night. “I can’t wait to start my major.”

“I’m really just enjoying all the people and everything,” said Katie McIlvain, a first-year student from Painesville. “I’m excited to start the psychology program here and to learn about study abroad opportunities.”

Office of the President launches Twitter account

One of the most-talked about moments from the President’s Convocation for First-Year Students is likely to be President Roderick J. McDavis’ selfie with the Class of 2018, which he used to launch the Office of the President’s new Twitter account @OHIOPrezOffice.

Within minutes of taking the photo, the newly-launched account amassed more than 700 followers – a following that continues to grow.

“Does it still count as a ‘selfie’ if it includes 4,300 people?” President McDavis joked.

The launch of the Office of the President’s Twitter account follows another social media milestone for that office: “From the President’s Desk,” a blog debuted by President McDavis last month in conjunction with his 10th anniversary at OHIO. The blog features insights, reflections and musings from the University’s 20th president.

“I look forward to connecting with you – through social media, through my new blog and, most importantly, in person, building on the relationship that we have started today,” President McDavis told the Class of 2018. “Bobcats, make the most of this journey. Forge new connections at every turn, and know that although transformation cannot be captured on camera, it is by far the greatest gift that you will take away from Ohio University.”